Why am I Writing this Blog?

I am very concerned about the growing level of illiteracy among our children. This blog is for parents who are homeschooling, parents whose children are falling behind at school and they don't know how to help them, teachers who would like to bounce ideas off an experienced teacher or get ideas to help student with problems. I will do everything in my power to help anyone in the areas of reading and writing.

In this blog I'll be using the original English spelling forms, so please make allowances if you're American or have been taught the American spelling form.

Please be understanding about the advertisements on the blog. It gives me the opportunity to earn a little to add to my pension.

Related links for teaching training, lesson plans and worksheets:

Fantastic Free Video series on how to teach handwriting:
by handwriting expert Nan Jay Barchowsky
by handwriting teacher Matt Nisjak

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: http://www.handwritingebooks.com/
101 sheets of lower case and 101 of upper case letters, plus a bonus book on numbers and another on words for $5.95 for the lot - A great bargain.

Information on Education and Homeschooling
EducationBug: Education Directory - articles, directory, newsletter and profiles on schools

Free Worksheets:
Eastside Literacy
First - Schools

Lined Handwriting Sheets:
Handwriting For Kids

Making Handwriting Sheets:
Handwriting Worksheets
Ed Helper

Videos About Teaching Handwriting:
Teachers TV

Free Lessons and Ideas:
The Electric Company
First 55 Come Alive
Literacy, Families and Learning
ESL Partyland

Ed Helper - Spelling
Ed Helper - Reading Comprehension
Ed Helper - Vocabulary
First - School
Sites for Teachers
Sites for Parents
Clipart for Worksheets
The Teacher's Corner
Teaching Made Easier
School Express

Membership Sites:
Ed Helper
Reading A-Z
ELSIE: Reading 0-6

Inexpensive Handwriting Books
Staidens Homeschooling

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Diversion From Reading and Writing to Maths

I've just been answering a question on a blog by a mum, homeschooling her child using cuisenaire rods and it occurred to me that some of you out there, may be experiencing the same problem, so I've copied and pasted the answer to this post below:

My name is Wendy Anderson and I have a blog on Teaching Reading and Writing, but I'm actually a maths specialist teacher. Would you believe that I went through exactly the same thing as you did in school with my maths. I was taught how to add, subtract,etc and because I have a good memory I received very good marks up until I reached high school.

Then I became a dismal failure in maths and never recovered. The reason that this happened, I didn't discover until after I'd bailed out of school at 15, worked in an office for 7 years and then decided that I wanted to become a teacher and did my year 11 and 12 at night school after working all day. I received my graduation from high school (Aust) college in the US I think, by doing English, Modern and Ancient History, Economics and Geography. Not a hint of science or maths.

It was only when I was learning to teach maths in Uni that I realised what had happened. I spent the whole time saying "Oh is that how it works out" The problem in primary school was that I learned how to get the right answers by doing step 1, 2, 3, etc, but I never really understood why I was getting the right answer, and the sad thing was that I didn't even know I was supposed to understand.

When I reached high school and I was expected to work on an understanding of the maths I'd been doing in primary school, I was lost.

Cuisenaire Rods are really necessary for teaching an understanding of the Base 10 number system and you're right, this should be explained to parents. It's just a fancy name for the number system that we all use and that has been chosen to be used world wide, because it's the easiest one to work with. The reason that it's called Base 10 is because it's all based on the number 10. We count by tens easily - 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, etc. When we multiply a number by 10, we merely have to add a zero to the original number eg. 325 x 10 = 3250. Everything in the system is based on ten. Start counting by 10 from any number and you get a pattern eg. 39,49,59,69. That's really all there is to it. Well almost.

You see, some children see this pattern and sail ahead, but some like you and me, missed it and because of that flunked out in maths.

Base 10 blocks and Cuisenaire Rods are a way for children to see that system, in a way they can handle and visually work with. Because you've got Cuisenaire Rods, I'll concentrate on those.
You've actually started off right, by letting your son play with them. Now gradually begin to play with him and introduce the numbers that the rods represent.

This little white rod is called a one rod. Now let's figure out what the other coloured rods are called. Let's try this red one. I know that it's called a two rod, can you think why? If he can't just place a single white one rod on top of the two and say, "How many more can we fit? Well look how clever you are. The red rod must be called a two because two white rods fit on it. What number are the white rods. That's right they're one, so that means that means one and one make two, Now lets look at the light green. I wonder how many white ones fit along it?"

Just repeat this with each coloured rod until he knows the number that each rod represents. Keep repeating the fact that the white rod is a number one rod, just to keep the association between the colour and the number of the rod.

The next step is to take the orange 10 rod and put two other rods that equal it underneath, such as black and light green. Then point out that if the black and the light green are the same as an orange, then that might mean that 3 + 7 = 10. Will we find out? Go back to sitting the little white one rods on top so that he can see that this works out. By now he may or may not have twigged to the system. If he hasn't, then just keep playing with him as I've described. Sooner or later the penny will drop and this is a great way to teach the numbers that combine to make 10. This will be used later in teaching the more complicated addition and subtraction.

Once you've done this you can get back to me if you like and I'll give you any info you need.

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